The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has threatened to hold nationwide demonstrations on Wednesday should the government stick to its guns on its refusal to pay teachers Covid-19 risk allowances.
Teachers in Malawi are currently staying away from their work, demanding that the government should pay them K35, 000 each for six months, arguing the nature of their job exposes them to the risk of contracting coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The Teachers’ Union of Malawi (TUM) called for the strike following the government’s refusal to honour a recommendation from the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, which classified teaching as one of the risky professions alongside health workers, the police and immigration, among others.
Now, the protracted war between the government and TUM has forced CDEDI to organize a peaceful protest in all the country’s towns and cities to force the government to address the teachers’ grievances.
CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa addressed journalists in Lilongwe on Monday about the impending protest, stressing that time had come for the parents and guardians to rise up and fight for the dignity and welfare of the teaching profession, which he said has been despised for decades.
Namiwa said Malawians should stop looking at the current standoff between the government and the teachers as a teachers’ affair only, but rather, a war between the government and its own citizens, especially those that cannot afford to send their children and wards to private schools within the country or abroad.
“CDEDI’s position on the current standoff between the government and the teachers in public schools is very simple and straight forward; teaching was classified by the Presidential Task Force on the Covid-19 pandemic in July 2020, as a profession that is at risk. It is surprising, therefore, to note that government has put its foot down, and has sworn never to give the teachers the risk allowances, and yet the same government is currently busy splashing out money to some individuals, in the name of Covid-19 cushion measures,” he said.
Namiwa threatened that should the current standoff between the teachers and the government remain unresolved by Wednesday, March 10, 2021, CDEDI will mobilize Malawians to protest in the streets of the country’s major cities and town.
He further said CDEDI is shocked to learn that the Malawi Government is giving out K70, 000 each to some individuals in the country’s cities and towns, as a cash transfer mechanism to vulnerable households.
He challenged President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to come out publicly and inform Malawians on the criteria the government is using to identify the beneficiaries, the number of beneficiaries and how much has been spent in the exercise so far.
Namiwa further alleged that Malawi Police Service (MPS) officers are not receiving the Covid-19 risk allowances despite being included on the list of beneficiaries.
He described the development as not only shameful, but also raises questions on the integrity of the Tonse Alliance Government and the leadership of President Chakwera.
“It further begs the question; if teachers and the police are not receiving the Covid-19 risk allowances, then who is pocketing them? CDEDI would like to warn the authorities not to take advantage of the situation of our men and women in uniform in the MPS, Prisons, Immigration, and the Malawi Defense Force (MDF), who cannot speak out publicly for fear of disciplinary actions and reprisals, since they are not allowed to form unions at their various work places.
“Such a situation should in no way give the Tonse Alliance Government a leeway to abuse our brothers and sisters in uniform. It is worth noting that they are first and foremost humans, therefore it is totally uncalled for to hide behind issues of professionalism and discipline to trample willy-nilly upon their rights,” emphasized Namiwa.
The CDEDI boss further challenged the Inspector General (IG) of Police to ensure that police officers get their dues immediately or explain the whereabouts of the huge sums of money the MPS was allocated for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :